Thursday, April 28, 2016

Update 29th April

New York, New York

So good they named it twice. The city that never sleeps. The championship game involving Roscommon and New York on Sunday next reminded me of three great summers I spent on a J1 Visa in the States when a student. The summers were ’68, ’69 and ’70. I actually spent two of the summers in New York and the third in Philadelphia. It was early days for the J1 exodus and I travelled with my friend from Creggs, Jim Mulligan. Jim had been there in ’67 and had considerable back-up with three sisters in residence there.

It was June ’68 and interestingly the day before departure I was with my father and older brother cutting the turf. At the end of the day we walked out of the bog accompanied by a neighbour John Crehan. As we parted from John at his house gate he said to me ‘See you tomorrow Tony’ to which I replied ‘No John I am actually going to New York tomorrow’. This was a big surprise to John as going to the States was still a big adventure then. ‘Wait there a minute’ he said going into his house, returning and pressing a ten shilling note into my hand.

My memory is a bit confused as to whether it was Shannon or Dublin we left from. There was an issue with Jim’s ticket and the possibility of the plane being overbooked but Jim was not to be denied and I was much relieved when he appeared on board. It was a probably my first time on a plane but the atmosphere was like a subdued party.

On arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens the first viewing made a considerable impact especially in the sixties. One’s impressions of such airports were all taken from films or movies and Kennedy Airport lived up to all the images. The hustle, the bustle, the jostling crowd, the sheriff-style police with the holstered guns and the cacophony of differing languages and voices. It was all there and more, just as it said in the movies.  After clearing immigration and passport control it was through to the arrivals hall and the pleasure of seeing Jim’s three sisters there to welcome us. Apparently we had to get a larger ‘chequered’ taxi because of our numbers. In any event we arrived at our destination which was University Avenue off 183rd Street in the Bronx where a small reception party ensued.

The next day was, for me, local exploration since Jim had been there before. It takes some adapting to the idea that one is 3000 miles or so from home and all the securities involved there. On the corner of 183rd St. was a ‘shop’ /store with the letters A&P with which I was to become familiar. My first day dealing there, with my raw Irish accent, was a self-conscious experience.  In the same area was the local church ‘Nicholas and Tolentine’  and not far away a church of different kind ‘The Aqueduct Bar’ run by the Moynihan brothers from Kerry. As the summer progressed there were many bars with familiar names like ‘The Leitrim and Mayo Inns’ and so on.

After a couple of days getting the feel of things the search for work began.  Our first job was on a regular tour boat from Manhattan up the Hudson for perhaps forty miles or so. It was called the ‘Day Line’ (there is also a famous Circle Line tour of Manhattan) tour and a Roscommon man had the food and beverages concessions on the boat. My role was to attend to a ‘frankfurter’ kiosk. Sometimes the frankfurter might look a bit mouldy but a run on the rolling grill solved those reservations. The boat travelled under the impressive George Washington Bridge, past a place pronounced Pikipsie with a stop at West Point Military Academy. While it was ‘cool’ as they say today the dollars were not in it and we were there for a few dollars more. So I departed from my sailing days in short order. Construction was where the dollars were and I had some experience of that in London town. (To be continued I expect.)

Government Formation or Lack of It … 60 Days On

The present efforts to form a Government are just depressing and the politicians are digging a huge hole for themselves and their class. Their credibility is diminished by it all. 
The current ‘negotiations’ have resulted in the old political animosities and positions flourishing. How can trust be engendered by the bitterness and brinkmanship of the current ‘negotiations’?  Irish Water has become the rock on which all this is being played out. Obviously Fine Gael think that a single utility and charging for water with concessions is the way to go and I agree with that.
Now, whichever way this is dealt with, it is certain to leave a widespread legacy of resentment. One could hear that in remarks on Thursday morning radio from Leo Varadkar. As someone who actually paid my water bills what happens this group now? I believe that paying a reasonable amount for water is acceptable. I believe that a single utility for the provision of and maintenance of same is appropriate. To back-track on all that has been put in place, whether shoddily or not, is trying to change horses in mid-stream. I also listened to Roscommon East Galway T.D. Ml. Fitzmaurice in the background this am and the clichés came ‘thick and fast’ such as ‘at the end of the day’, ‘the bottom line’, ‘water charges are dead in the water! , ‘being honest’,  ‘Lookit’ and ‘I’ll be very clear’. Alan Kelly had very strong words for the current policy developments calling them ‘environmental treason’. This seems to be the e-voting system (cost 50m) multiplied by X.

The posturing and attempts at points-scoring of the political negotiating groups as they walk towards their meeting venue in Trinity College or wherever is something to behold. 

My own view is that a minority Government, if put in place at all, will be short lived.  The question then is, will the result of another election be any clearer? 

And bending a Maureen Potter 'spake' to apply to politicians and another election ‘If you fall off that wall and break your leg don’t come running to me’. 

There are several critical issues which are not getting the attention they should as the hiatus continues such as: The constant of the health service with  the length of time  people have to wait for a multiplicity of procedures and also the position of housing provision for the homeless and those who wish to get on the ‘property ladder’, to name but two.
As Laurel used to say to Hardy ‘Another fine mess you’ve got me into’. 

The Continued Rise of Trump.

If one is depressed about all that is happening or not happening here I imagine that there are huge numbers of people in the United States becoming more than depressed about the rise of Donald Trump. He seems to be getting a broad vote from varied zones while at the same time alienating certain groups especially women. It will certainly be a big challenge for Hillary Clinton who I expect to win the Democratic nomination unless a thinking middle ground emerges to support her. What is it about the system in such a great country, in so many ways, that it ends up presenting its people with such a choice? Then what do I know either?    

The Roscommon Herald Centenary Supplement

Once again the Roscommon Herald has come up trumps with a fine supplement dealing with a particular area of interest. This time it deals with the Centenary of the Rising and Roscommon’s connections with it and the War of Independence which followed. An older touchstone document, which is a collector’s item for Roscommon people now, is that which was published by The Roscommon Herald in 1959 on the Centenary of the establishment of the paper in 1859. The paper has published a number of ‘supplements’ since then on sport and such and also on the papers 75th Anniversary.  All these form a collection of interesting snapshots of those events. By including a number of photographs of schools commemorating the Rising Centenary the current publication has added a contemporary link and I imagine the supplement will be a valued document into the future for those students and the many people pictured or whose forbears are mentioned therein.      

Some Sports References

Boyle GAA

Seniors win provides window of opportunity

Boyle 0. 14  Oran 1.9

Boyle by virtue of their necessary win over Oran on Sunday last maintain the possibility of retaining senior league status for next year. There are still very stiff hurdles to overcome with probably three points necessary from the remaining games. Boyle have played Pearse's (won)/Kilmore (lost)/Elphin (lost) Strokestown (lost) Oran (won) i.e. 2 won 3 lost. Teams to be played are Western Gaels/Roscommon Gaels/Clann na nGael/ St. Brigid’s.

The Boyle performance last Sunday was a big improvement on the second half against Strokestown. Donie Smith was a key player for Boyle on Sunday with 9 of Boyle’s tally. At half time the score stood at Oran 1.6 Boyle 0. 8. After an even first half Boyle dominated the second half and finished pretty strongly. The classic error of ‘giving away’ possession with misplaced passes still remains. It also has be said that Oran did not appear near as strong as the prospects coming down the track.  Again as I have mentioned last week Boyle are still missing key players and if they can get 99% of the team out together they should be a good side. It was good to see the return of Roch Hanmore and Conor McGowan back from injury and coming on last Sunday.
Boyle’s next big game is their first championship outing of the year and that is against Castlerea St. Kevin’s on the week end of the 7th/8th of May.  

Boyle Celtic’s Final League Game

As happened a couple of years ago the Sligo Leitrim Super League decider will come down the last game on Friday the 29th at 7.45 when Boyle Celtic take on Calry in Boyle. Celtic have ground out a couple of results this last week against Yeats and Manor to arrive at this point. It is some achievement that having drawn the first game they have gone the next 19 games winning all. The margin for error is so narrow with City just a shade behind. Apparently many games in this league have been ‘no shows’ and it looks as if the league is a creaking vehicle at this time and in urgent need of rejuvenation.   

Dublin Boss Kerry

It is rare to see Kerry being bossed at Croke Park. While the dismissal of Kerry’s Aidan O’Mahoney had some impact on the latter part of the game Dublin ended in full control. They were hugely impressive on Sunday against the one team which would be expected to challenge them in what was a great game of football. Dublin now have such an extended panel of fine players and a bit like Kilkenny a few years ago perhaps could field two intimidating teams. It is hard to envisage any team derailing their All-Ireland march again this year. Of course great sides have been beaten before and showed vulnerability that we did not anticipate but this team looks really special. 

Leicester City’s League Win

Sport is speckled with unlikely winners and that is the beauty of sport. This is what inspires teams and individuals to dream and very occasionally have the dream come through. Leicester will go down as one of the greatest sporting successes in the history of sport. I mentioned above being in New York in the late sixties. In 1969 New York’s  Shea Stadium was home to the New York Mets baseball team and they came from the basement to not only win their own league but win ‘The World Series’ which is the pinnacle of baseball. Even I got involved in their progress. They were labelled ‘The Amazing Mets’ or ‘The Miracle Mets’ and I have a book on their ’69 season sub-titled ‘The Year the Mets Lost Last Place’. This time it is the ‘Amazing Foxes of Leicester City’. They will surely be contenders for the sporting success story of the ages.    

Friday, April 22, 2016

Update 22nd April

Census Day Sunday Next
Next Sunday April the 24th is National Census Day and it is important that we all cooperate with the process. This is a collection of national data on which many government, social and economic decisions and policies are arrived at. Also it a record of the state at a particular time. The word ‘census’ has its origins in a Roman word meaning ‘to estimate’. The process goes back nearly five thousand years in Egypt and later in Greece, Rome and China.
The great census in our region was  undertaken in England when what is called ‘The Domesday Book’ was undertaken in 1086 by King William the first so that he could properly tax the land he had recently conquered. Copies of this record are still to be seen.
The first full government census of Ireland was taken in 1821 with further censuses at ten-yearly intervals from 1831 through to 1911. No census was taken in 1921, because of the War of Independence. The first census of the population of the Irish Free State was taken in 1926. To date censuses have been taken in 1926, 1936, 1946, 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1979 (the census due in 1976 was cancelled as an economy measure!), 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2006 and in April 2011.
The original census returns for 1861 and 1871 were apparently destroyed by the decree of the British Government, for whatever reason, shortly after the censuses were taken! Those for 1881 and 1891 were pulped during the First World War, probably because of the paper shortage!

One of the tragic results of the beginning of the Civil War was that the returns for 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 were, apart from a few survivals, notably for a few counties for 1821 and 1831, destroyed in 1922 in the fire at the Public Record Office. This has left a huge gap in the genealogical record of this terribly important period.
The first basic census available online from the point of view of tracing your ancestry is that of 1901 followed by 1911. The next census to be available to the public will be the 1926 Census Returns will be released in January 2027.
In filling out the census try and make sure the biro mark is a clear and straight horizontal line across the allocated box. The forms  when first encountered may seem intimidating but they are large enough to allow for a generous number of people being part of a household, so in smaller household a number of sections will not apply. The enumerator will of course always advise people with any issues.

Proclamation Signatory Eamon Ceannt
On foot of a conversation I had recently I decided to check back on some of the lesser known participants of Easter 1916. One of them was Eamon Ceannt who was born in Ballymoe which is geographically in county Galway but is part of St. Croan’s GAA club. Eamon was born in September 1881 the son of a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary i.e. R.I.C. The family moved to Louth and later to Dublin  where he worked in local government. He became involved, like so many at that time, in various cultural organisations promoting Irish language, history and culture including the ‘Pipers Club’ he being a talented musician. Ceannt was a founder member of the Irish Volunteers and a member of the I.R.B. and was involved in the successful Howth gun-running operation of 1914.  He was the commander of the Fourth Battalion of Irish Volunteers during the 1916 Rising and took control of the South Dublin Union (St. James’s Hospital).  Ceannt was one of the seven men to sign the Proclamation of Independence for the Irish Republic and was executed on the 8th of May 1916.

Cork’s Thomas Kent
In the conversation mentioned above my colleague seemed to get Eamon Ceannt mixed up with Thomas Kent who was also executed immediately after The Rising. Thomas Kent was from Castlelyons in County Cork and with Roger Casement was one of the two ‘rebels’ who were executed outside Dublin after 1916.  Kent had not travelled to Dublin for The Rising due to the countermanding order of Eoin McNeill ordering Volunteer units to ‘stand down’ from all manoeuvres on Easter Sunday when he became aware of the intentions of the inner circle of the Dublin I.R.B. to undertake a Rising in Dublin with Connolly’s Citizen’s Army. 
Thomas Kent and family were known to the police as Republican activists and on word of the Dublin outbreak of hostilities they tried to arrest Thomas and his brothers. A fire-fight ensued and a policeman was shot dead and one of the Kent brothers died subsequently from wounds incurred in the gun battle. Thomas was executed by firing squad on May 9th  after a summary trial and buried in Cork prison in a grave near his place of execution. He was for decades regarded as the  ‘Forgotten Patriot’. In 1966 he was remembered with the railway station in Cork being re-named in his memory. After archaeological investigation in 2015 his remains were exhumed after being confirmed by DNA and were re-interred with full state and military honours in the family graveyard of Castlelyons. 

(At ‘Ardcarne Remembers 1913-1923’ which takes place from Friday April 29th to Sunday May 1st the official Opening will be performed on the Friday night in Crossna church by Michael McDowell grandson of Eoin McNeill.)

What it Says in the Papers (the ones I’ve scanned)

Joe Brolly on Death in the Ring.
Joe Brolly had an incisive article in the Sunday Independent on Sunday last surrounding the recent tragic death of the Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho in the Mixed Martial Arts fight in Dublin. Joe also covered some of the historic deaths incurred as a result of boxing. He used a quote from one of the great heavyweights of the late sixties and seventies Joe Frazier who was involved in one of the most savage fights of that time versus Muhamad Ali, which took place in 1975 and became known as ‘the thriller in Manila’. Ali won the fight but it left its mark physically and mentally on both fighters. Frazier before he died in poverty said: “I got my money took, my brain shook and my name in the undertaker’s book.”. (I seem to remember Joe Frazier, who may also have been able to sing, performing in The Casino dance hall in Castlerea in the early seventies. Could that be right?). A sidebar to Brolly’s article was the text of the Bob Dylan song, “Who killed Davy Moore?”. Davy was a star American boxer in the 50s’ and 60s’ who died days after a fight in March 1963. The long song deals with Dylan’s interpretation of the role of the referee, the crowd, the manager, the gambler, the boxing writer and his opponent. Apparently nobody killed Davy Moore.    

Fergal Keane on 1922.
Also in the Sunday Independent Fergal Keane has a testing article titled “Confronting our blood-soaked, vicious past the best tribute to Irish Republic”. Fergal is in the throes of writing a book about the War of Independence and Civil War in North Kerry and he certainly has some controversial episodes to explore there. These include one of the most horrific episodes that being at a place called Ballyseedy where eight Republican prisoners were killed by a mine in reprisal for the earlier deaths of five Free State troops.
West Cork was another area in which many tragic ‘incidents’ of reprisal also occurred. These have been regularly referred to by Eoghan Harris.
I have not heard anecdotally or otherwise of any such ‘incidents’ occurring in Roscommon during that period. Barry Feely in his recent book ‘They Dared to Challenge’- page 104- writes of the curious disappearances of four RIC from Frenchpark in May/June 1921. 
So as the celebratory commemoration of 1916 passes we are heading towards a far more tricky period i.e. the Civil War from June 1922 into 1923. This is a period which laid the foundations for the politics of the last century of which we see ongoing evidence in the current machinations in Leinster and Trinity College no less.

Where would you rather be?
The above question was asked over a lovely picture of Lough Key bathed in sunshine on in the last couple of days. I had actually tripped across a series in The Irish Times online ‘Planning to return to Ireland? Here’s all you need to know” . There are a series of short essays covering the range of experiences and emotions by people who are in the various stages of the process including having come home and deciding to leave again!  The headlines covering the essay contributions are illustrative of the confusion and challenge of such a decision.
Ireland is such an exasperating country in the sense that even though we are so tied to it emotionally and it having a good deal going for it, still it succeeds in driving so many fine young people to leave. Anyway the series in The Irish Times is an interesting if inconclusive exercise.   

‘Veteran of Everest gets €40 k for fall on Wicklow Way trail’    
The above was a headline on Saturday’s paper. Apparently the lady tripped on a Parks and Wildlife boardwalk  which was part of the walkway. She got a gash to the knee which required seven stiches. “The 59 year old lady told the court that she had climbed in the Himalayas and to base camp on Mount Everest and could no longer climb or run marathons. She had been walking for over 40 years “all around the world.”’ Now what would you make of that and some of us thinking perhaps we had problems?    
Sports Review

Impressive Strokestown too strong for under-strength Boyle.
Strokestown 1.19 Boyle 1.7.
Strokestown were convincing winners over Boyle in the senior league game on Sunday at Boyle. The first half was a close affair but in the second half ‘Town’ (as Strokestown abbreviate their name to regularly) went up through the gears and it was easy for them in the end. Colin Compton opened Strokestown’s account in the first minute of the game and this set the tone as it was Compton who was to add another 9 points to his sides total in a very impressive performance. Compton and Donie Smith of Boyle were the main scorers for each side in the first half, Smith scoring four times with 2 being frees and Compton scoring 3 points 2 including frees. The half-time score was Strokestown 1.6 Boyle 1.5. The goals came from Gareth Gilmartin for Boyle and Ml. Hagen for ‘Town’. Boyle would have felt they did well to be just a point in arrears at this stage. The second half provided a succession of evenly spaced points for Strokestown from start to finish and all Boyle could harness was just 2 scores. Stokestown were in control in the second half with good interplay and strong running and in Compton especially they had the finisher to transfer this into a healthy lead. It has to be said that Boyle were missing nearly half a dozen influential players through injury such as Sean Purcell, Enda Smith, Evan McGrath, Cian Beirne, and Roch Hanmore with Stokestown’s most notable absentee through injury being Cathal Compton.
Best for Boyle, mostly in the first half, were goalkeeper Tadgh Lowe, Ml. Hanmore, Tadgh McKenna, Gareth Gilmartin who did very well, Dylan East, Jim Suffin and Donie Smith. For Strokestown, apart from ‘Man of the Match’ Compton, they had impressive performers, for the most part in the second half, from Kevin Finn, Daniel Rogers, Paddy Brogan, Sean Mullooly and David Neary. Scorers; Strokestown; Colin Compton 0.10 (3 fr.) S. Collins 0.1, E. Molloy 0.2, D. Molloy 0.1, Ml Hagen 1.0, Kevin Finn 0.4 (2 fr.) Tom Corcoran 0.1. Boyle, Donie Smith 0.5 (2 fr.), Gareth Gilmartin 1.0 Colin Goldrick 0.1, Jim Suffin 0.1. Gerry Carmody did very well as referee.   

On Sunday next Boyle play Oran in Rockfield, Oran at 2. If Boyle hope to remain in the Senior league this is a game they really need to win, though Oran showed that they too are a force to be reckoned with when defeating Clann na nGael on Sunday last in a high scoring game.

Boyle Celtic Two to Go
Boyle Celtic overcame Yeats Utd. on Wednesday evening in Carny on the score of Celtic 4. Yeats 2. It was a tough struggle on an ‘irregular’ surface with Yeats twice going in front. However the better football of Celtic saw them home with some outstanding performances especially from three-goal hero Shane Battles whose classic third goal would grace any level of the game.  They now have two more games but can only afford one draw to win the Sligo Leitrim league for the second time in three years. Their next game on Sunday morning is v Calry at 11am  where if they  win the final game will be v Manorhamilton on Wednesday night when they will know for sure whether they are Super league Champions or not. 


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Update 14th April

Still no Government
 As I write these notes, on Thursday morning, Sean O’Rourke on RTE 1 Radio is discussing the present state of play regarding the formation of Government with Fionnan Sheahan of the Irish Independent and Katie Hannon of RTE’s political staff. These two people would be in pretty key positions to tell what was going on in the political workshop of Dail Eireann. But they are as confused as anyone really. They discuss the permutations and the tell of the comings and goings of the past weeks and the ebb and flow of possibilities. The net result, as we approach a third time for the nomination of a Taoiseach, is that things have advanced little in the treaty debates. And whatever the immediate outcome the seeds of distrust have been so well germinated that if a political compromise emerges now, of whatever construction, it will be carry in its genetics the destructive elements that will probably lead to its short term implosion. This will mean another election in the not too distant future and the cementing of old divisions which had subsided to a degree that they were hardly recognisable of late. It is all sad and a reflection of the pettiness of those involved. It was said after the French Revolution and the era of Napoleon that the old aristocracy had returned having ‘Learned nothing and forgotten nothing’ reinstating their old systems, prejudices and entitlements.    

The Irish Senate and Dr. Martin Daly
 The election for the Irish Senate takes place on Tuesday April the 26th next. Last night I tuned into a Vincent Browne programme which was supposed to be a ‘debate’ but was really only an introduction to a particular group of candidates. The group last night were contesting the three seats allocated to the National University of Ireland constituency i.e. UCD/UCC/UCG/Maynooth.
Voting for the Senate is restricted to various groups who are deemed to be entitled to do so for various reasons. I have a vote for a member on the NUI panel. I am asking people who read this and have a vote for a candidate on this panel to consider voting for Dr. Martin Daly from Ballygar. Martin Daly has been a great servant of Roscommon GAA senior teams, hurling and football, for years now and any of you going to Roscommon senior inter-county games will have seen him attend to injured players. He was also President of the Irish Medical Council and has been involved in a number of other community initiatives.
Now I know that many people see the Senate as being of little relevance but when its abolition was voted on in October 2013 the vote was to retain it. I know that what most people wanted was a more ‘relevant reformed Senate’. This has not happened to date. The theory is that the Senate acts as a check on the power of the Dail. A member can in extreme circumstances formulate legislation. Once I heard a definition of a particular sports team as being ‘the has beens, the might have beens and they thought they should have beens’. While I am loathe to use this epithet in relation to the Senate it is a common perception.
There are 60 Senators and they are ‘elected’ as follows;  11 nominated by the Taoiseach; 6 elected by graduates, 3 from the NUI and 3 from Trinity; 43 from special panels as follows, 7 from the Administrative, 11 from Agricultural, 5 Cultural and Educational; 9 Industrial and 11 Labour. As one can see the 11 in the gift of the Taoiseach gives him a nice lever over TDs who have lost their seats or who want to get on the political ladder. Senators have a basic salary of €65,000! There are currently 16 Fine Gael; 11 Labour; 9 Fianna Fail; 2 Sinn Fein; 1 Renua and I Independent, Senators. Current Roscommon Senators are John Kelly, Labour and Terry Leyden, Fianna Fail. I suppose the most colourful current Senator is David Norris though he has his trials and tribulations in recent years.
Some famous former Senators have been W.B. Yeats, Douglas Hyde, Dr. Noel Browne, Jack McQuillan, Brian Friel, Ml. D. Higgins, Mary Robinson, Seamus Mallon and Gordon Wilson.
While the role of the Senate is questionable, for members it acts as public forum with a certain degree of status and keeps a number of its members in the political game without the stress of constituency work.

         Sports Review

Roscommon in Croke Park
It was a cold day in Croke Park on Sunday last. It remained cold. The Roscommon support had travelled in numbers as they always do but they got little to warm the spirits. By half time as we went walkabout to warm the body in the bowl of the great stadium there was little debate of consequence. Our fate seemed sealed. Kerry, the aristocrats of the game, had dealt clinically with the upstarts from west of the Shannon. In the thirteenth minute the present Kerry prince of Gaelic football, Colm ‘the Gooch’ Cooper, had applied the killer strike with a sublime goal of which Ronaldo or Messi could be pleased. To this were added two goals first from Donnchadh Walsh and then Darren O’Sullivan. The star performers were all Kerry with the roaming colossus Kieran Donaghy back to his best if not better, the ever threatening Darren O’Sullivan, Cooper and Moran.
While Roscommon did put up a creditable performance in the second half there was a surreal inevitability to it all. Roscommon as a team seemed to have found it difficult to deal with the occasion and being in Croke Park. It is isn’t the first Roscommon team to be thus effected. The pace and threat of previous games was stifled by an opposition who looked to have few weaknesses and were so fresh and so at home in the environment. Still the hope is that Roscommon GAA Project will get back on tracks with the championship starting in New York with possible games afterwards against Leitrim and Sligo. If that is what emerges we will have parked the Croke Park result in the backlot of our memories. 

In the second game the Dublin juggernaut rolled over a Donegal team relying too much on veterans who had done it once but were now were overtaken by time. This seems to be the era of a Dublin team with all the aces in terms of resources, personnel, support, belief, location and with perhaps only a single threat to their immediate dominance i.e. Kerry. In the League final we will get an indication as to the merit of that suggestion.

MMA –Mixed Martial Arts
I have not been a devotee in any way of this emerging ‘sport’. The tragic death this week of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho is a big reality check for the ‘sport’. I know that there are other ‘sports’ too, like boxing, that have the potential in which this could happen but MMA seems to have a primeval nature to it that is most disturbing. In history there have been ‘sports’ such as ‘bear baiting’, ‘cock fighting’, bare knuckled fighting and others which have been banned. Where MMA goes now is questionable but it is unlikely that it can be banned at this stage. I remember -very loosely- a teacher, who disliked football a lot, debating with me its merits and illustrating as his acid test for its legitimacy thus; “If a person came from another planet and saw 30 people kicking a ball of air around a field what would he think?”  Now if that same person from planet X saw MMA as demonstrated on Saturday night last what would he think of a so-called civilised society? Of course our visitor from Planet X would have a large palette of questionable behaviour to dissect in any study of our world and its natives.

Sports Fixtures

Boyle Celtic’s Challenge For League Title
Boyle Celtic are very much in the running to regain the Great Southern Hotel Sligo Leitrim Super League with four games to go. The only caveat is that they have to win at least three and draw one to edge out close rivals City Utd. from Sligo. The first two games are away beginning with Sunday next the 17th V Calry Bohs at 11am and on the following Wednesday the 20th with a last away game V Yeats Utd. at 6.45. Yeats are one of the top three teams in the current standing so this is a key game. The second last game sees Boyle Celtic on home ground for the return of Calry Bohs on Sunday the 24th at 11. The final game is V Manor Utd. on Wed. the 27th in Celtic Park. This is a game that was to have been played on Wed. of this week but was postponed due to an unplayable ground at Manor.
So the best of luck to all involved in this tense run- in in their quest for the title. As I said, I am told that the game to watch is V Yeats on Wed. the 20th.

GAA Senior League
After all the focus on the county senior team it is back to club football this week-end with the McGovern Directional Drilling Boyle Senior team taking on Strokestown in the Abbey Park on next Sunday the 17th at 2. It looks like Boyle will be missing a number of key players such as Evan McGrath, Enda Smith and Sean Purcell for this game We wish all three well as they fight to recover from their injuries. The Strokestown game will prove a big challenge for Boyle as Strokestown is an emerging senior team of consequence.

Hurley Ash
I heard one of those little ‘would you believe’ facts a few days ago. Apparently the Sandringham estate of the Queen of England-as opposed to Queen-is a source for the provision of ash for hurleys! So in the visit to Croke Park some time back a Philip did a bit of business on the side. As the boss of Reggie Perrin used say, ‘I didn’t get where I am today….’  

The Masters
While many people tuned away from the finale of the Masters to watch Christy Moore I stayed with it and what a turn-around there was as Jordan Spieth from pole position imploded and Danny Willett of England crept up to take the ‘Green Jacket’. It was tough on Spieth but Willett had put himself in position were something to go awry for the leader and so it transpired.
One of the favourites Rory McElroy had a mixed performance and might think, that with many of the top players down the field, that this was an opportunity missed to add the fourth major of his record and create history. His performance was too creaky however and he seemed giddy and not as competitively concentrated as I would have thought necessary. But what do I know?
It was nice to see Shane Lowry get some limelight with his ‘hole in one’ at the 16th’ and he looks Olympics bound to partner McIlroy this summer. Shane comes across as a real gem of a person and despite not being a contender on the last day of the Masters it has been a big week for him getting married to Wendy Honner in New York in the last day or so.      

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Update 8th April

Political Prologue
In the background, as I address writing these notes on Wednesday, the three o’clock news begins and with the first line the reader is able to tell the future; “The Dail is meeting right now but will not be able to elect a new Taoiseach…..”. They also met a month or so ago and they were not able to elect a Taoiseach then either. It was understandable then I suppose but forty days later the political games and posturing continue.  One just shakes the head and probably says to oneself; “What is going on ?” A little reflective question that crosses my mind is, if there was another pretty immediate election how would I vote then? Recognising the probability that there would be a big reduction in the voting public how would it change the composition of the present Dail? 
There is plenty of news and commentary coverage of the fact that we do not have a Government right now but we are well into overtime on the issue.

Donal Trump
I see from yesterday’s US Primary-in Wisconsin-  that Mister Trump has hit a speed bump. It was of his own construction like a number of them. This time it involved abortion and his crude views on that issue. Earlier it had been the building a wall along the Mexican border, (wall at Doonbeg golf course in Clare fronting the sea), then it was his attitude towards Moslems. Even Europe took a swipe. If it was thought necessary by Trump he suggested that he would not rule out the use of nuclear weapons on Europe in some strange universe of his mind. It seems as if the tide is turning. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently spoke of the embarrassment engendered by Trump being a candidate. Its more than embarrassing it is serious.   

Some US Government Structures
The United States, is of course a great country but is it a great democracy? Some will suggest that anyone can reach the highest position in the country and Barack Obama is an example of that .However the amount of money necessary for a presidential election is crazy. 
The basic principles of how the country is governed are laid down in the American Constitution which is the great touchstone of American democracy. This allows for three branches of Government, the Legislative Branch, The Executive and the Court System.     

Legislative Branch
The legislative branch enacts legislation, confirms or rejects presidential appointments, and has the authority to declare war.

This branch includes Congress (the Senate and House of Representatives) and several agencies that provide support services to Congress. American citizens have the right to vote for senators and representatives through free, confidential ballots.
•Senate - There are two elected senators per state, totalling 100 senators. A senate term is six years and there's no limit to the number of terms an individual can serve. Interestingly they have elections every three years for half the Senate numbers so that there is a constant half, at least, with three years’ experience.
•House of Representatives - There are 435 elected representatives, which are divided among the 50 states in proportion to their total population. I presume these are the people referred to a Congressman/Congresswoman as Senators are very definitely referred to as such?

While I have only a very basic knowledge of all this, a question here is possibly why there is a need for two house groups; a House of Representatives and a Senate? I suppose it is to continue the process of checks and balance. Which is more powerful/influential, a Senator od Congressman/woman? What are the differences in the roles of a Congressman and a Senator?  

The Executive Branch

The executive branch carries out and enforces laws. It includes the president, vice president, the Cabinet, executive departments and independent agencies. The President is head of state and leads the country. He/she is leader of the Federal Government, and commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces. The president serves a four-year term and can be elected no more than two times. US citizens abroad can also vote in this election something that might be introduced here. From time to time the President can enact some laws/legislation by ‘decree’ but this is resisted vigorously by Congress.

The process of Presidential election seems to be an ongoing one in the United States. (Maybe we are going to be entering a similar environment). There are two major parties in the US, The Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicans might be regarded as the more conservative perhaps akin to the British Tory party. The Democrats, who are generally supported by those of Irish background, might be regarded as of Social Democrat hue.   
The first part of this process is to try and get a nomination from one of the two dominant parties and this is what is in train as of now. Trump, Cruz and Kasich are the three remaining candidates seeking the Republican nominations from a field of seventeen at the beginning of the nomination campaign. Trump is not flavour of the month with the Republican hierarchy apparently and is seen as a maverick which of course is popular with some prospective voters. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are the two remaining candidates for the Democrats. The nomination race is the preliminary run before the actual Presidential contest. Like the leaders of many countries the results have been uneven in terms of quality of leadership. Since the thirties the presidents have been Franklin D.Roosevelt -who actually died during his third term- a great World War Two President, followed by Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Regan, Bush Snr. Clinton, Bush Jnr. and Barack Obama.

Judicial Branch

The judicial branch interprets the meaning of laws, applies laws to individual cases, and decides if laws violate the Constitution.

The judicial branch is comprised of the Supreme Court and other federal courts.
•Supreme Court - The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. The justices of the Supreme Court are nominated by the president and must be approved by the Senate (with at least 51 votes). Congress decides the number of justices. Currently, there are nine. There is no fixed term for justices. They serve until their death, retirement, or removal in exceptional circumstances. On nomination they are rigorously vetted by Congress.

Postscript: Of course the dilemma with checks and balances is that they can paralyse a section of the system. It is said that after President Obama drove home his ’Universal Health’ programme through Congress by the narrowest of votes this led to many of  his subsequent programmes being defeated by a Republican dominated Congress. Also it is well to remember the insidious influence of ‘Lobby Groups’ with their resources such as exemplified by the National Riflemen’s Association the N.R.A.

Then there is also a layer of state government under the umbrella of the Federal Government. So if you work, in say New York, you could end up paying three proportionate taxes; city, state and federal.  

(Recently there has  been a very good TV series treating of Obamas legislative efforts from inside the White House, covering health, gun control and discrimination. Indeed one of the critical themes of the fine film ‘Lincoln’ starring Daniel Day Lewis was the wheeling and dealing that Lincoln and his protégées engaged in to have an Anti-Slavery Bill passed in Congress ).

Roscommon v Dublin
It was a pretty dramatic if not traumatic week-end for Roscommon County GAA. On Saturday evening the U 21s’ went down to Mayo in the Connacht final in Sligo. Roscommon could have been really in the driving seat if a Henry Walsh effort had been goaled mid-way into the first half. The loss of two of Roscommon’s main players Mullolly and Compton one to a black card and the second to injury, was central to Mayo coming back in the second half and to just getting over the line and ending Roscommon three-in-a- row aspirations. Still there are a number of very good players on this team who will now boost the resources of the senior team. These would include Mullolly, Compton, a third Murtagh-Diarmuid- and a third Daly. Tadgh O’Rourke of Tulsk, grandson of Tom Callaghan was ‘Man of the Match’ on Saturday evening. So he too will be a contender.
The miracle of having Hyde Park available for the senior game on Sunday did not materialise and so we transferred to Pairc Sean in Carrick-on-Shannon. Playing conditions in Carrick were also a bit problematic. Still there was a good atmosphere and getting into the steep seating of the stand made it a satisfying experience. Things looked ominous at half time with the Dubs leading by nine points to three. Roscommon looked like they were paying too much respect to the Dubs and much of the ball going into the front line did not stick there. However the management must have had a real effect on the team at half time as they really charged into the All-Ireland champions in the second half and might have snatched  a draw at the end. While Seanie McDermott was pretty harshly dealt a ‘black card’ the introduction of U 21 player –from the evening before – Sean Mullolly showed that he is a another contender for a position. While the usual suspects like McDermott will form the basis of the championship it will take a while before the management will actually get close to knowing their best team. Niall McInerney seems to be another emerging star. There is now a big panel with a good few players on the same level. So every team selection for the foreseeable future is unpredictable. I suppose the panel for the first championship game in New York will tell us a god deal more.
So Sunday is another adventure with a trip to see Roscommon v Kerry in Croke Park at 2.
Panama Offshore Accounts
So another WikiLeaks has hit the headlines and it is certainly interesting. Apparently people squirreling away large amounts of finance was being organised by a legal firm called Mossack/Fonseca in Panama. The first victim was the Prime Minister  of Iceland.  While Ireland naturally have a number of actors involved FIFA too has a couple of names listed including the recently appointed President to replace Blatter i.e. Gianni Infantino. He who promised to ‘clean up’ FIFA from issues which were prevalent with the previous administration. Appropriately enough a member of their ethics committee has also been named! The coming week-end will probably offer up another tranche of squirrels.

Summer/Autumn of Discontent
In the U.K. a period of ‘78/’79  is referred to in terms of industrial relations as ‘The Winter of Discontent’. It looks as a follow on from the Luas rail strike in Dublin that a few months down the line could see the beginning of a ‘Summer/Autumn of Discontent’ with a lot of groups in transport/Gardaí/teachers/nurses and so on looking to claw back the cuts of the last number of years.

GAA Sports Centre at Abbotstown

The GAA Sports facility which was opened this week at Abbotstown looks very impressive. Hopefully some progress with Roscommon’s Medieval park will now be initiated.

Well done to Marc
A little belatedly I wish to commend Marc Egan on his performance on The Voice TV programme with his version of David Bowie’s song ‘Rebel Rebel’ . Any one of the three contenders in Marc’s group could have been chosen. I imagine we will be seeing/hearing a good deal of Marc into the future. So I wish him well.

Easter Sunday Game
I have had a valid complaint about the GAA fixtures dominating special days. The day named in this instance was Easter Sunday when Roscommon played Mayo and a big crowd attended. Obviously this may have diverted some of those GAA fans away from what might otherwise be a family day.

The Masters
One of the great annual sporting events is taking place this week-end i.e. The Master’s Golf Tournament. The problem is that the television rights for d good deal of it have been hijacked by SKY TV. Anyway as I scribble Offaly’s Shane Lowry has had a great start. Wouldn’t it a bit Leicester if Shane won. His first big win, the Irish Open was it (?) when an amateur, was something similar.

Circus in Boyle
How the Circus has survived is something of a mystery. The Corvinni Family Circus is in Boyle at the moment. Performances in the ‘Results Gym’ Car Park on Carrick Road
Friday 8th, 7pm : Saturday 9th, 5pm and Sunday 10th at 3pm. I might see you there!

Administrator Saddened
The death of Merle Haggard is referred to by Sean on the home page. I know that Merle Haggard has been a particular favourite of his for a long time and that he will feel very much the passing of this music legend.   
Political Epilogue… late Thursday:

So the Fine Gael/Fianna Fail marriage didn’t get to the church and seems to have crash landed with ‘irreconcilable differences’. Not much chance of a Tallaght strategy or benevolent support for a ‘minority government’ in the tones emanating especially from Fianna Fail. Perhaps they feel they have been led into an alley. More muted from the triumvirate of Fine Gael representatives on the plinth i.e. Frances Fitzgerald, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar. Now, consider that trio and think of who are the contenders for when Enda Kenny is elbowed aside. Paddy Power has shortened the odds on another election. I imagine Enda could hardly be in place for that. ‘Cui Bono’ is a famous Latin phrase meaning ‘who benefits?’. Who benefits from a set of circumstances? So ‘Cui Bono’ from this afternoon’s rumble? It certainly does not appear to be Fianna Fail or the Irish public but the ‘play’s the thing’.